In the wake of a rather catastrophic behind the scenes, one can look at Facebook's high-level decision-making. One question remains:…
In the wake of a rather catastrophic behind the scenes, one can look at Facebook’s high-level decision-making. One question remains: Who took a controversial Republican opposition research company this week?
In a long conversation with reporters on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg denied no knowledge of his company’s own relationships with Definers Public Affairs, the company in question. Definers Public Affairs is an “outfit of elit GOP operations” specializing in opposition research – a dark art that is the norm in politics, but deviant in virtue of Silicon Valley.
Founded by a Republican campaign manager rewarded its dirt digger Proffess, Defers is far from a normal, politically neutral entrepreneur. Secondly, the company shares the staff and office space with America Rising, its opposition-oriented PAC, as well as a right-handed news aggregate called NTK Network, which flows stories that are placed by the company’s other wings.
In a try, Defers driven back to Facebook critics with a story that linked the social network’s opponents to George Soros, the million-democrats and the frequent goal of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Zuckerberg did not find words about his attitude towards his company’s relationship with Definers. “I learned this yesterday. Generally, this type of company may be normal in Washington …. but it’s not the kind of company Facebook will work with,” said Zuckerberg on Thursday, noting that Facebook had ties with company.
In her statement late on Thursday, Sheryl Sandberg also denied knowledge about the company, saying that she did not know about the work they did for Facebook but “should have”. In the predictably sparse and characteristic late response, Sandberg condemned conspiracy theories that address Soros as “abominable”.
While the company still has not explained how Facebook dropped the Republican led crisis management company, there are some educated guesses to be done.
(TechCrunch contacted Facebook with questions about the scope of the company’s work and how the relationship began and comes to update this story if we learn more.)
Having denied any knowledge about Definers ̵
1; curious that Facebook itself stated that its “relationship with Def Iners was well-known by the media” – Zuckerberg landed on an explanation: “Someone on our Commission team must have hired them. “While this transfer of money is doubtful, it’s also probably true.
The fact is a remarkable piece of Facebook’s communication law has direct links with Defer’s founder Matt Rhoades, who previously ran My Romney’s campaign offer for president. Facebook’s current Communications Manager Andrea Saul, Secretary of State for Romney for Presidential Campaign from the beginning of 2011 to November 2012, under Rhoades. After the Romney campaign was dried, Saul went to work for Sheryl Sandberg’s ideal LeanIn.org for two years and found himself in Facebook in mid 2016.  Jackie Rooney, a Facebook spokesman and member of Facebook’s Corporate and Internal Communications Team, served in the Romney campaign as Chief of Staff of Campaign Manager Matt Rhoades. Rooney has been with Facebook for almost six years. Carolyn Glanville from Facebook’s Corporate Communications Team , a relatively new rental on Facebook, also served on the Romney campaign as a deputy municipality cation director.
A handful of other Facebook group members also worked with the Romney campaign, but were less directly linked to Rhoades. Romney has fundraised for Defers sister company, America Rising PAC, as recently as 2015. America Rising’s stated goal is to act as “an independent organization capable of driving the most difficult negative story against Democrats.”
In addition to Facebook sending connections, another educated guess at Defender’s culprit points to Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s deeply influential, long-term boss lobbyist.
Kaplan, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Public Policy, served in George W. Bush’s White House from 2001 to 2009, first as a Special Assistant to the Police President and later as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, where he “integrated the implementation of legislation, communications and external appeal and political strategies “. Both Rhoades and Pounder – Defenders founder and president, worked on the Bush campaign in 2004 and continued to serve in the White House after the Bush campaign happened to develop and develop a certain praise for their opposing research work.
“We distribute and strategically distribute public information to build and influence media reports, move public opinion and provide powerful ammunition for your relationships and government efforts,” the group called Definers says. “No one else can say the same.”
After joining Harvard together, Kaplan and Sandberg are close. On Facebook, Kaplan reported to communications and public policy, VP Elliot Schrage before Schrage’s resignation announced in June. Schrage reported to Sandberg, although Kaplan was often involved in high-level decision-making and part of “an elite group” of senior executives in the company.
According to the New York Times report, Facebook’s engagement with Definers began before October 2017, probably after the group set up the shop in Silicon Valley a few months earlier. While these conversations sometimes deal with content controversies, it is difficult to imagine that they would not shape overall communication strategy in the midst of ongoing crises.
Following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, Kaplan urged Sandberg to ramp up lobbying efforts by other Bush administrator alum Kevin Martin. Around the same time, Facebook has once again “extended” its work with Definers and switched to a more offensive strategy in line with the on-the-attack style that the company specializes in.
Like all decent political operations, the kaplan usually disperse the spotlight – but not later. Kaplan made headlines recently by appearing in the support section of Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh under the National Television Hearing Instrument. A week later, Kaplan and his wife hosted a celebration for those who had worked with the nominated Kavanaugh nomination nominating themselves.
If it was a time when Facebook’s relationship with the Republicans was actually strained, Silicon Valley’s Prime Minister Equivocator had swung completely using Kaplan. While left-wing Silicon Valley can carry, his deep Republican establishment band remains of an asset than a blame to Facebook and has enabled him to earn effective in his role for more than 10 years at the company. Facebook continues to scratch its East Coast-cliff brick while providing lip service to the West Coast’s political ideals and generally tell everyone what they want to hear.
One of Technology’s biggest companies providing a Republican political oppo-outfit in mitigating an irresponsible series of PR disasters is remarkable in its own right, but Zuckerberg’s ignorance of Facebook’s dalliance with Definers does everything yet more odd. Who knew what and when? Did Sheryl Sandberg really not know that the company contracted with the group? Given her proximity to Kaplan, Schrage and her extreme awareness of Facebook’s image, grown through the comms team, is that possible?
Like Facebook’s two top leaders, the theater is in horror in the propaganda of the company in the political dark arts, they can be surprised to learn that Oppo actually comes from the inside of the house.
More likely they would not be.